Doctor Who review: Whittaker leaves the lows on a high
Doctor Who has reached another end of another era, but how well does it work as a bookend, or the start of a new chapter?
There is only one constant within Doctor Who, and that is change. Therefore, the end of Jodie Whittaker’s turn as the Time Lord was inevitable, and it has finally come around.
This new episode, The Power of the Doctor, which serves as the BBC’s centenary celebration as well as the 13th Doctor’s Swan Song, throws as much of Doctor Who as it can during its hour and a half runtime.
However, as fans know, this episode took many twists and turns, with some things that fans loved, and some that fans hated. Nevertheless, the final episode of this era of Doctor Who seems to perfectly encompass Whittaker and Chris Chibnall’s series as a whole, both the good and the bad. But first, warning: slight Doctor Who spoilers ahead…
Whittaker shines through the mess
As the first female Doctor, Whittaker had a lot of pressure on her shoulders, and despite the show often taking some dips in quality, especially in terms of the writing, one constant has always been the passion in her performance. You are always able to tell how much she cares about being the Doctor, and this fuels her performance in her final rodeo.
This helps, as like many of Chibnall’s episodes, the writing can unfortunately get rather convoluted, as the episode is filled to the brim with cameos, an arguably too long opening sequence, plot points, and Easter eggs, which fans will either love or hate depending on who you ask. It’s somewhat of a mess, but at least it’s a hot mess.
We are also thankfully given a well-known enemy, the Cybermen, though they have of course upgraded since we’ve last seen them. It’s a shame that the upgrades of Cybermen are never really given much importance in the plot either – it only serves to heighten the stakes. The stakes are bombastic, yes, and thankfully the pacing of this episode is done well enough, but there still could have been more build up.
This episode will have you asking “The Doctor and… Who?”
Being an anniversary celebration, this episode is of course filled to the brim with cameos of old Doctor Who faces. We’ve got that in the form of villains, including the Daleks, and Sacha Dhawan’s Master, who to this day is still having viewers question whether is he scene-stealing or scenery-chewing. Either way, he’s massively enjoyable in the role.
The relationship between Doctors and their companions are also highlighted, with a companion support group being a fun gag. Ace and Tegan get a moment in the spotlight, which will no doubt be a treat for fans of classic Who. And while Yaz (Mandip Gill) is disappointingly thrown to the wayside with no future at her story’s end, her farewell scene with the Doctor is the actor’s best performance yet.
Not only that, the episode makes time to feature the Doctor’s other companions: the past versions of themselves. We are treated to an enlightening scene with Colin Baker, Peter Davison, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, David Bradley as William Hartnell, and Jo Martin as the Fugitive Doctor, as they help 14 outwit the Master.
Ultimately, this episode wasn’t created to tell the best story that Doctor Who has ever told. It was created to honor the show’s past, and that it does. And it also serves to open the door to the show’s future, which is does… but not in the way you’d expect.
As Whittaker regenerated – in a scene that may not be as iconic as previous regenerations, but was heartfelt nevertheless – in her place stood the man who many regard as the best Doctor out there… David Tennant.
This is certainly a way to end an episode, and this will no doubt have fans racing back to see what happens. And we’ll be there right along side them.
Doctor Who is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.